Democratic candidate for U.S. House (6th district)
Responses to our questions
The U.S. government is now $20 trillion in debt. To address that historic level of public indebtedness, the country would need to raise revenue and/or decrease spending. What is your position on the budget and debt?
I will carefully consider every available option to reduce the national debt level.
The recent tax reform bill limits the options. Congress had a clear opportunity to pursue a long-term bipartisan solution to fix a tax code riddled with problems. However, President Trump and the Republican-led Congress chose to pursue excessively low tax rates for corporations. They boosted exemptions from the estate tax, while doing nothing to address carried interest provisions in any meaningful way. They lowered individual rates only for the near term, while providing greater benefits to the ultra-wealthy.
These actions -- combined with old and new loopholes and subsidies -- means that effective tax rates and federal revenues will be lower. The national debt will increase by at least another trillion dollars. Congressional Republicans' turnabout on our national debt level is out of line. Their federal tax bill confirms that they ultimately favor running the country on historically high-debt levels.
Arguably, the debt load may be manageable for the near term, because interest rates are low, and debt is not crowding out growth. Given this, now is the time to shore up Social Security and Medicare. As Congresswoman, I will fight for a responsible federal budget that prioritizes and protects critical social safety net programs.
I've met many working families and seniors in Illinois 6 who are deeply concerned about Social Security and Medicare. Individuals who pay into Social Security are entitled to receive payments when they reach retirement age. Congress has an obligation to honor American workers and retirees by protecting Social Security and Medicare.
I reject the tired, ineffective political approach of Representatives who only want to cut programs. Programs that have low effectiveness should be closely evaluated. I will support legislation and oversight that fixes programs so they better meet their goals, enhancing effectiveness from both a cost and service perspective.
Can you identify any major federal expenditures or programs that you would eliminate?
As Congresswoman, I will consider possible reductions in military expenditures for equipment that is obsolete or no longer best-in -class, such as F-35s and the Ford Class Aircraft Carriers. Nonetheless, any reviews must always be predicated on ensuring that defense expenditures actually strengthen military readiness of our active duty military, reservists, and National Guard.
I also will consider support for an audit of any possible defense contractor fraud or abuse. When Congress revises the tax code again, I will advocate for removal of subsidies and credits that are simply government giveaways, or that create an uneven playing field between or within industries. I will consider removing subsidies for industries that are competitive and generally profitable, such as the energy industry. I believe that fossil fuels and renewables are sufficiently profitable without incentives from the federal government. I will consider potential adjustments to the crop insurance program which provides significant subsidies to large farming corporations.
Medicare and Medicaid costs continue to spiral. How can these programs be restructured to control costs and avoid collapse? Be specific about your willingness to change or reduce future benefits.
Medicare and Medicaid costs are spiraling for many reasons, including our aging population and the destabilization of health care programs by certain factions in Congress. The majority of people in Illinois 6, regardless of party, are supportive of providing lower income people and those with disabilities with healthcare. As one Republican said to me, "no one wants poor people or the disabled to be without healthcare."
The federal government should negotiate drug prices through the Medicare system, reviewing, monitoring and possibly restricting price increases for products developed with federal funds. As Congresswoman, I will support bringing the eligibility age for Medicare down to 55. Workers in their mid-50s who lose their employment are less likely to be re-employed or employed with the same benefit levels. At the same time, they are at greater risk medically and typically incur huge costs for insurance and healthcare. Permitting people to opt into Medicare at a younger age would help adjust some of the risk rankings and costs of the Affordable Care Act.
Republican bills to repeal-and-replace the Affordable Care Act made it crystal clear that Southern Republican states want federally-provided Medicaid, though they were only able to acknowledge their need within the narrow construct offered by Republican leadership. I oppose the concept of block grants. Block grants will not give patients any greater ability to compare or control costs.
What if anything should be the federal government's role in helping Americans obtain health insurance coverage?
The Federal government's role is to help make healthcare accessible and affordable. As it is right now, insurers are the middlemen in the delivery of healthcare to Americans which means the Federal government must help those who cannot afford health insurance obtain coverage.
As Congresswoman, I will fight to make the Affordable Care Act more effective. Since most Americans oppose taking insurance away from those who have obtained it through the ACA, it's time to make the ACA work.
Peter Roskam has been proud of his repeal-and-replace mantra. But with several terms under his belt, Roskam failed to offer any alternatives. Though Congress must make some tough decisions about cost allocations and other structural aspects of the program, the ACA is fixable. I will advocate for solutions that bring healthcare costs down for every American, regardless of their income level.
Economic growth has been steady but wage growth is slow. Are you content with the state of the economy? What is your recipe for enhancing American prosperity?
While Illinois 6 is one of the most prosperous congressional districts in the State, there is room for substantial economic growth. As Congresswoman, I will strive for growth and improvements across all sectors of the economy.
The incumbent Peter Roskam has made numerous statements about the "economics of envy" in which he characterizes Democrats as individuals who want everyone else's share of the pie. His divisive, Trump-like statements, show a complete lack of respect for the hard-working people in Illinois 6. Many voters, regardless of political affiliation, have built successful lives based on equal opportunity, good education, hard work, and the ability to plan and save for retirement.
As Congresswoman, I will support legislation that strengthens public education to give our children and grandchildren a strong foundation for later life. Parents and students across our district voice deep concerns about the cost of higher education. In fact, a couple from Downers Grove shared with me how they stopped taking vacations as their kids approached college so that they could help their kids get through school. Since many Illinois 6 voters recognize the value of a college education, I will support thoughtful legislation that addresses the spiraling costs of higher education, by lowering student loan interest rates and expanding federal work-study programs and Pell grants.
Peter Roskam proudly claims to be a chief architect of the Republican Tax Reform Bill which restricted the state and local tax (SALT) deductions that many taxpayers in Illinois 6 rely upon and need. SALT deductions have been an integral part of the federal tax code since its inception - for a reason. People should not pay federal taxes on the money they pay to their state and local government. Right or wrong, Illinois is likely to remain a high-tax state. As Congresswoman, I will fight to restore full SALT deductions.
Like many Congressional districts in America, Illinois 6 requires substantial infrastructure improvements, especially improvements to roads, bridges, and technology including high-speed internet. Decreased safety and lost productivity from outdated infrastructure continues to increase costs to businesses and individuals.
McHenry County is one part of Illinois 6 with limited highway access. As Congresswoman, I will work with state and local government to seek better highway access for McHenry County. I also will support ongoing efforts to expand and modernize O'hare Airport and adjacent transportation infrastructure in the region. These efforts will directly benefit the working families and businesses in Illinois 6.
If you could fix longstanding problems with this country's immigration system tomorrow, what would you do? What is your position on the future of DACA and the Dreamers?
As Congresswoman, I will fight for comprehensive immigration reform including a path to citizenship for undocumented individuals, similar to the Gang of Eight bill that passed the U.S. Senate in 2013. However, House Republicans, including Peter Roskam, opposed it and refused to act. Roskam's opposition to comprehensive immigration reform is baseless. There is a broad base of support for it, including from regional businesses.
I will support efforts to modernize our immigration process so that individuals applying for visas and greencards can be served more effectively. I support a path to citizenship for Dreamers, and I support a clean Dream Act. It is a disgrace that young people who are American in every way--but for a certificate of citizenship--are living in fear and constant insecurity. I will fight all efforts by the Trump Administration to use an individual's immigration status to deny equal protection under the law. We must aggressively prosecute individuals who commit hate crimes.
North Korea's nuclear weapons program represents a direct threat to the security of the United States and its Pacific allies. How should the U.S. confront or contain Kim Jong Un's regime?
Military action by the U.S. is a plausible, but the least desirable, response to the nuclear weapons threat by North Korea. Without doubt, North Korea is hell-bent on developing a nuclear armaments capable of reaching the U.S. We know that Kim Jong Un is the powder keg in the Korean Peninsula, and military action would have dire, irreversible consequences. Even preemptive military action will result in massive loss of life.
I denounce President Trump's brinkmanship and irresponsible banter to meet North Korea with "fire and fury like the world has never seen" with a 'nuclear button' "much bigger & more powerful." The President's inability to resist taunts with Kim Jong Un is astoundingly irresponsible and threatens the safety and security of millions of people, including our military men and women.
We should continue to employ all possible diplomatic options and act in a thoughtful manner. We should maintain and increase sanctions against North Korea. There is no doubt that other countries and leaders share the same goals and want North Korea to reverse its current course, and they are struggling with how to make progress. We did not create this problem. But we should not make it worse. In addition to his incendiary approach, the President has made numerous other statements and taken actions that undermine our partners in Asia and our own Secretary of State. Countries, like China, have a closer and better ability to affect North Korea on many fronts.
North Korea's nuclear program is only one piece of the puzzle. History, economics and an ability to 'save face' matter, so we need to recognize this is not an issue that is going away anytime soon. We have to work very hard to avoid escalation, but also to be prepared for a worse-case scenario.
ISIS is contained in Syria and Iraq but terrorism remains a threat. What are your priorities in keeping the country safe?
Congress must be more assertive in reviewing -- and leading the discussion on -- foreign policy issues and armed conflicts across the globe. Foreign policy should not be left to the Executive Branch alone. As Congresswoman, I will not shirk my responsibility to make decisions about the U.S. role in armed conflicts.
Congress must reject Islamophobia and encourage the administration to build better relationships with Muslim American communities. By disenfranchising Muslims and people of Middle Eastern ancestry, the administration increases the risk that law-abiding people will fear federal law enforcement. This ultimately will decrease our ability to detect and deter terrorist threats at home.
Should the U.S. continue to abide by the terms of the nuclear agreement with Iran?
The U.S. should adhere to its international agreements, particularly those entered into with, and supported by, America's allies. I fully support the goal of a nuclear-free Iran and a stable Middle East. The U.S. should abide by the terms of the nuclear agreement with Iran.
What is your position on the continued presence of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan?
The U.S. should make every effort to reduce the number of forces in Afghanistan. However, the U.S. must not totally remove all troops from the region. Military presence in Afghanistan has a positive impact on U.S. national security, Afghanistan's security and global security.
Do you support a unified, federal background check system for gun sales? Do you support magazine limits or a ban on certain rifles? Describe, briefly, your position on how to balance safety with the Second Amendment.
Overwhelmingly, Americans, including responsible gun owners, support reasonable and responsible efforts to address gun violence. The NRA no longer represents responsible gun owners. It no longer advocates for common-sense gun laws or supports responsible gun ownership. Congress must institute universal federal background checks on all firearm sales, including closing the "gun show loophole" where felons and other prohibited individuals purchase firearms through transactions between private sellers, also referred to as the secondary market.
As Congresswoman, I will support a permanent ban on bump stocks and similar devices designed to substantially accelerate semi-automatic weapons' rate of fire. I also support a permanent ban on the sale of all semi-automatic, "military-style" assault rifles to the general public, including high-capacity magazines and silencers. These military-style weapons exceed a responsible civilian gun owners' right to own firearms for self-defense. I also will support efforts to remove guns from convicted domestic abusers and others who are a danger to themselves or others.
I support "No Fly, No Buy" restrictions for individuals listed on the FBI's Terror Screening Center's database of suspected terrorists and other individuals banned from boarding planes. Anyone on this "No Fly List" should not be able to purchase a gun. Nonetheless, Congress must enact appropriate legislation to ensure that adding and removing individuals from the "No Fly List" does not undermine individuals' due process rights.
I will not support a federal concealed carry bill that removes all certification requirements to carry a loaded, concealed handgun into another state. Such a bill would 'nationalize' concealed carry in a manner that would allow gun owners from less restrictive states to travel with their concealed, loaded weapons into another state with more restrictive concealed carry laws designed to protect public safety.
Though no single law is a cure-all for the mass shootings that occurred in Aztec, New Mexico, Las Vegas, Nevada and Sutherland, Texas in 2017, Congress must take affirmative steps to reduce the level of violence, making Americans safer without undermining responsible gun owners' 2nd Amendment rights. This is an issue where the majority of Republican and Democratic voters agree.
As Congresswoman, I will represent every person who could be affected by a bullet. I will represent the person who is troubled when they go into their church, synagogue or mosque, and has to think about their physical safety instead of their spiritual renewal. I will represent every parent who thinks about their child going into the movie theater and wondering whether to tell the kid to look for an exit in case of Fire --- Gun Fire. I will represent every teacher that has a heavy heart when she talks with their students about the lock-down drill. America has always been about striving for the best. We must strive mightily right now.
Should the U.S. government take steps to curb emissions of greenhouse gas? If so, what steps? If not, why not?
The U.S. must take affirmative steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions. I oppose the Trump administration's withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement and the administration's inability to recognize that America's environmental standards have made it successful. China's air, land and water are irreparably tainted, and China's leaders are finally taking action to meet modern environmental standards. Yet, the Trump administration wants to rollback our progress on the environment. It is unbelievably short-sighted and costly. The U.S. laws that protect our air, land and water have been instrumental in keeping Americans safe and prosperous. The benefits of environmental regulations far exceed their costs.
As Congresswoman, I will support laws that continue to protect our natural resources and our people. I will support legislation that funds the agencies enforcing our environmental laws. Fully funding the EPA is a piece of this puzzle. Nonetheless, we also have to look at other ways to enhance accountability, including better coordination between federal and state agencies, and improving the work of other federal agencies including Health and Human Services.
Because the current Administration and Congress are rolling back action on climate change, we will have to re-evaluate what actions will most quickly restore our ability to reduce carbon pollution. I will work to support clean energy initiatives and to hold polluters accountable. Congress must work more aggressively to reduce the roadblocks and better integrate clean energy delivery to end-users.
A key advantage that we have to capitalize on is general acceptance of clean energy as a more economical energy source. One of my goals will be to look for ways the private sector can help push for the adoption of clean energy.
I'm willing to take the lead to lessen the political infighting on these issues. The administration's recent proposal to open up offshore drilling to oil companies is short-sighted and harmful to the environment and state economies. This administration, with the complicity of the Republican party, is cloaking its giveaway to oil companies as some sort of ideological, policy-based decision.
Tell us something about you that might surprise us.
I wanted to be a ballet dancer.
If you are an incumbent, tell us the most significant accomplishment of your current term.
I'm not an incumbent.